Third baseman Rafael Devers walks into the MassMutual Center Arena in Springfield, Mass., during the Red Sox Winter Weekend on Jan. 20. Hoang “Leon” Nguyen/The Republican

Expect a new vibe in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse this season. For better or worse, Chaim Bloom has hit the reset button on the leadership in the room.

The transformation began with the loss of Xander Bogaerts, the shortstop who won two championships in Boston before leaving for the warmer climate and larger contract of San Diego. That move stunned Red Sox Nation.

Bloom’s decision to designate Matt Barnes for assignment last week was not as shocking, but it continued the turnover of former champions.

Statistically, it is easy to understand the move. Since appearing in his first All-Star Game in July 2021, Barnes has become a shadow of himself. He showed periods of improvement, including a good run at the end of last season, but it was clear he wasn’t going to be part of the late-game relief mix with the additions of closer Kenley Jansen and set-up man Chris Martin.

In many ways the decision to move on from Barnes represents the end of an era for Boston. Incredibly, there are now only three players on this team remaining from the 2018 championship. Chris Sale, Ryan Brasier and Rafael Devers are the only Red Sox players who know what it’s like to ride a duck boat.

Moreover, Barnes was the last player on the roster to have played with David Ortiz. The championship legacy is now firmly in the hands of Devers, who after signing his megadeal extension becomes the face of the franchise. The baton has been passed, from Ortiz to Dustin Pedroia to Bogaerts to Devers.


The 10-year, $313.5 million deal given to Devers is the biggest in the history of the franchise. You don’t just get a deal like that to play baseball; you get it to lead the clubhouse.

Devers, just three months removed from his 26th birthday, doesn’t want to talk about leadership.

“They want me to be a leader,” he said at Red Sox Winter Weekend, “but I still feel like I’m really young to be that leader.”

The Red Sox have built a support staff for Devers. Justin Turner, who won the Roberto Clemente Award last season for his stellar work in the community, was the leader of a Dodgers championship team. Jansen was that team’s closer. Adam Duvall won a title with Atlanta. They join Kiké Hernández as the leadership group at Fenway.

None of those players have long-term deals, yet they will help forge the character of this team in the short-term. They will also mentor Devers, a job that Bogaerts handled so well in recent years.

Devers seems willing to follow them.


“We have a lot of veteran players on our team,” he said, “you’ve got to give them their respect as well.”

That’s fine with Alex Cora, who will manage a new-look group of veterans looking to follow the path of the 2013 Red Sox. That team was made up of veterans who signed short-term deals and shocked the baseball world with a championship.

It’s unlikely this team will do that. The most important thing it might do is set the tone for the future, and make a leader of Devers.

Last fall, Cora told me Devers was “about to take over the leadership” of this team. The contract Bloom gave Devers will accelerate that process. Surrounding him with experienced players will help that evolution happen more quickly.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN.

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